Monday, June 23, 2014

Monday, June 23, 2014

120- While we in Portland, our students were busy writing stories about their fairy houses.  I'd started this with them before we left, but I never imagined how far they would be able to come with my wonderful substitute.  I came back to stories that were fully illustrated and painted with watercolors! 

So, today I had the pleasure of turning these little stories into books like the one below.

Fairy Story (the cover) 

A fairy saw a house.
Then, another fairy came and wanted to live there, too. 

They started to fight over the house.

Then they decide to live there together forever.

Upon seeing the number of beautiful books at the Opal School, it was exciting that I had such rich material available to get right to work with these students today!!

118- I brought a few students down to help me edit the second grade book about animals in our community. We have the photobook ready to be published now!

108- We took a walk to the Valley Nature Trail and placed their fairy house in the woods.  We saw some of the other classes' fairy houses.  They had been tipped and perhaps vandalized. I asked them what they think happened:

It might be animals.
I think it was people. 
Maybe it was the wind and the rain. 

We talked about how we would feel if it was done on purpose.  The students agreed that we shouldn't touch things that don't belong to us, even things that belong to the animals. 

J- If you find a bird's nest, you shouldn't throw it or take it.  It could have eggs in it and you would make the Mommy bird really sad.

We found a large hole in the ground and they predicted what could possibly live in it. 

It's a rabbit hole!
It could be a snake!
I think it's where a rat lives.

116- We also took a walk to the Valley Center.  This was the longest walk we've taken back there so far.  We walked all the way to the river...

Then we took a new route back and saw a pond with lily pads!  I asked them what lives in the river and the pond.

G- I think the muskrat lives in one of those holes by the water!
I- The Kingfisher bird lives here.  It's blue.
Y- Catfish live in there! 
J- Frogs and tadpoles.
Y- The frogs sit on those things, right? 

Our longer walk was definitely inspired by the conference.  Instead of just placing the fairy house and heading back, we let the kids explore, probing them with questions and "I wonder" statements. Mrs. Driscoll commented on how they were totally, completely engaged. Their entire bodies were immersed in the learning- climbing through the grasses, touching flowers, smelling, running, laughing, pretend-playing that animals were hiding, seeing "fairies" in the woods.  It was a memorable walk for sure.

A Visit to the Opal School in Portland, Oregon

Five of us were lucky enough to travel to the Summer Symposium at the Opal School in Portland, Oregon last week. It was inspiring and it greatly helped us to not only see what we need to improve, but HOW to get there. 

Flying over Portland

Mrs. Holden and I went to a clay workshop.  We  saw ways to set up provocations
with clay and heard tips on caring for the clay.
They had blocks that could be used in the clay area. This is one of the
provocations from the clay studio.

This is another provocation- they set clay up like a maze and the
students would create things to go in the maze.

The Opal School  has an arboretum located right next to the school.
Mrs. Holden and I hiked the arboretum, listening to stories about how
the school uses the different areas to inspire learning.  This is Mount St. Helen's.

You can see how this would inspire students.

We saw how they do their documentation. This is an area that
we need to focus on for next year. I feel inspired and my most recent
documentation was created using the same program they use, so I feel like
we're heading in the right direction.

Everything is neat and beautiful.

This is me. I loved that the ceilings have mirrors!  It provided more light
for the back corner of the room and I thought it would be neat to create artwork
on the table and then look up to see it from another perspective. 

Some things reminded me of our students.  This reminded me of X's quote from
March 26th: here.

It was so inviting in these classrooms.

Just beautiful and inviting. 

Great quote!

This was my favorite part. They used blue painter's tape to create
what I immediately recognized as Dutch-inspired art. The best part is the
part that looks like a projector is shining on the wall- it tricked me!  It's
actually an area that previously had the painter's tape, but was painted white.
Since the background is cream, it created the look of shadows from a projector. I
can't even express how much I love this.
We learned so much.  We learned that we're heading in the right direction.  Our instincts are good.  When they read dialogue to us, we were able to read the "languages" the children used and had an idea of their understanding, without even ever meeting the children. 

We went to a workshop that helped us understand how to reach children who might not react the way we expect them to- children with behavioral or emotional problems. We went to another workshop presented by a public school (Orangethrope Elementary) which has taken a Reggio-inspired approach. It was refreshing to hear from another school like us! 

We asked a lot of questions and the teachers were very forthcoming in their answers. This, of course, only led to follow-up questions, as we wanted to get as much information as possible out of the visit. 

This year has been amazing. We've changed our classrooms, we've changed how we teach and we've changed our entire outlook on how children learn.  It's been a lot of work, but there is nothing more worthwhile than making these changes for the students!  

Monday, June 16, 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014

116 & 118- I brought a group of students down from each second grade class and the students continued to work on their books about the animals of our community.

108- The students began a story about their fairy house as they drew the fairy house.  I prompted them with questions.  I will add the dialogue later, after I deleted their full names from it for anonymity. 

112- I took the students to the Valley Nature Trail to drop off more of our fairy houses. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Field Trips and Fairy Houses

Some long overdue photographs...

The botanical gardens field trip with Pre-K.

I just loved this.  It looks like a fairy/witch to me. 

The Fairy Houses at the Fairy House Festival at Artpark.